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Rushford Library concerns

Mon, Mar 26th, 2012
Posted in Rushford All

Ms. Fergison and Ms. Tesch, I want to thank you for your concern for the Rushford Library. Ms. Fergison you made the statement, “I may not have all the facts...” to which I would like to offer some financial information regarding the City of Rushford, which I hope will bring an understanding to the Library issue. The information involves a considerable amount of financial information and analysis. I have learned over my years, without good information decisions tend to be emotional, and emotional decisions tend to be costly. With that I will give you the City’s financial information which I have, and along with that information I will give you my bias as well.

Entering the calendar year 2012, the City of Rushford had debt obligations of $10,509,326.00. How cities are able to go in debt was in a sense to mortgage all the real estate within the city limits. Within the city limits there are 523 residential properties and 78 commercial properties. The Taxable Market Value of all properties for 2012 was $78,863,200, which is determined by the Fillmore County Assessor’s office. If I were to divide the value of the city, $78,863,200 by $100,000 it would equal 788 units of value. To assign debt per unit I would then take the city’s debt of $10,509326 and divide it by 788, and the result would tell us how much debt per $100,000 of property value; $10,509,326/788= $13,336. So what is that telling us? In simple terms, if you own a property valued at $100,000 in Rushford, the city’s debt against your house is $13,336. If your property’s value is $200,000 you have $26,672 against it, and that debt is paid by the property owner through taxation at varying rates of interest and term. At the present time, Rushford uses approximately $890,000 of its operating budget to service the existing debt, roughly $260,000 of the $890,000 is the cost of interest.

We know we are obligated to borrow $1.4 million in two years to pay for the Hwy 43 project which is an additional $1,776 per $100,000 of property value. If we assume the City of Rushford would need to borrow $1,800,000 for a new library that debt per $100,000 of property value would be $2,284.

I know the Library Board and Staff have worked long and hard on this and I appreciate it very much. However, at this time in our City’s financial history, I consider a new library a want, not a need. I do feel our existing Library needs some remodeling provided we don’t go into debt to do that.

One of my responsibilities as councilman is to make decisions associated to city debt. When any city goes into debt it presumes on its property owners for the perceived benefit of all residents. I do my best to sort those decisions into “needs” and “wants” categories; if it’s “wants,” I have to proceed as if the property owners can afford the debt. Debt obligates a future resource, which dictates future decisions as well. In the case of the Library, at this time my determination is “No.” I realize not everyone agrees with my approach to decision making, however, it is consistent with my election campaign.

Ms. Tesch, you raised a good question regarding the swimming pool. Last year, the pool had an operational loss of $14,041, which is a regular occurrence. My predecessors on the council understood this and made the decision to offer Rushford residents an annual membership lower than non-residents. That decision makes sense to me because the short fall was/is made up from real estate taxation on owners of properties in the City of Rushford. If it were equal to everyone, resident and non-resident, it would not be fair to property owners of Rushford.

What you may not be aware of is residents in the “City of Rushford Village” will be reimbursed by the Village council in part or in whole for the pool memberships purchased for the Rushford Pool. With this information, I hope you will reconsider and enroll your family in the Rushford Pool Programs. In addition, I’m sure your children would enjoy a summer of fun with their friends from school, and it would be my hope that you would want to patronize our fine businesses who pay a large percentage of our real estate tax.


Roger Colbenson

Rushford, MN

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